International Parental Child Abduction
We can help you if you have concerns about, or are faced with problems relating to, your child being abducted, either in this country or abroad.
Prevention/Threat of Abduction
If you fear that your child, or other minor in your care, may be taken from you and taken abroad, then it is important that you obtain specialist legal advice as soon as possible.
If there is a real and imminent threat (next 48 hours) then your first step must be to contact your local Police Station, first by telephone, and then in person to give a statement.
The Police have the power to circulate information about the possible abductor and the child(ren) to all UK points of departure and place the child(ren) on the ‘child abduction list’. A Court Order is not necessary for the Police to take action in the first instance. You should also contact the Passport Service directly to inform them of the circumstances.
Following that, we can take steps to obtain Court Orders to protect from the risk of future threats of abduction, which could include an Injunction to prevent removal from the jurisdiction, together with a Prohibited Steps Order under the Children Act, and in some cases a Child Arrangements Order. Such orders give the Police powers to enforce the Injunction and the passport agency the power to refuse the issue or renewal of a child’s passport without your consent.
In the event that the possible abductor has the child(ren)’s passport(s) then we can also ask the court to order that it is surrendered.
WARNING: If the child has dual nationality you must also contact the embassy or consulate of the other country and ask them not to issue a passport for your child. Remember we have no control over the actions of foreign embassies/consulates; we can only issue requests.
There is legal aid available for cases where there is an element of domestic violence or if the child(ren) is at risk of child abuse.
Parental Child Abduction
If you are facing a scenario where your child has been abducted, or unlawfully retained in another country, then we can take immediate action on your behalf. Conversely, if you are being accused of unlawfully removing or retaining a child, we can also represent you.
If the country in question operates under the 1980 Hague Convention and/or the Revised Brussels II Regulation, then this process would include an application through this country’s Central Authority for England and Wales for the Convention, which is the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU). The aim of the 1980 Convention is to ensure that an abducted, or wrongfully retained, child is returned to the country where he/she normally lives so that issues about care arrangements can be decided by the local courts. Legal aid is automatic in these cases.
If your child(ren) has been abducted to a country that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention then this tends to be more difficult. Often it is necessary in these cases to try and come to an agreement. This can often be achieved through specialist mediation. Alternatively it may be necessary to commence proceedings in the country where the child has been taken to/retained in, which can be a lengthy and expensive process.
In either scenario the court may make your child(ren) a ward of the court while the matter is determined.
Here is a link to the list of countries that are signatories to the 1980 Child Abduction Hague Convention.